Dear Friends of HAP,
In a recent gathering of community members in Montrose, we created space for people to share their experiences over the last two years of the pandemic. There was laughter and also tears, but at the end of our time together—it was clear that our community is resilient in the face of adversity. We already knew that our community was strong because that’s what it takes to move to another country without any of the support systems that most people rely on to make a new beginning; but despite the loss and hardship that most people have experienced due to COVID-19, it is evident that people are still filled with hope.
The urgency of human connection and support for one another confirms the importance of our mission of immigrant integration focused on community outreach, advocacy, and direct assistance. Here at the Hispanic Affairs Project, our commitment is stronger than ever to reconnect with our community—and that includes many of you—to hear peoples’ stories, break bread together, and move forward our collective vision of change.
We invite you to read through this newsletter in its entirety to hear more about some of the exciting work we are focusing on this year!
PHOTO: HAP’s local committee, Inmigrantes Unidos de Gunnison celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month
The City of Gunnison, a Welcoming Community
Over the years, the Hispanic Affairs Project has been part of many successful collaborations and we are pleased to highlight our most recent partnership with the City of Gunnison. This year, HAP is contributing financial support for the City’s full-time community liaison position to encourage more active participation of our community in local government planning and initiatives. This is a great step to further our work with elected officials, key partners such as the Community Foundation of the Gunnison Valley and Gunnison County Multicultural Services, and our local committee, Inmigrantes Unidos de Gunnison.
In December 2021, the Gunnison City Council elected Diego Plata, the first Latinx, naturalized U.S. citizen, as mayor of the City of Gunnison. This is an important step in recognizing the significant diversity in the Gunnison Valley and we hope Mayor Plata can lift up the diverse voices in the community through his work with the city council.
Lastly, the City was recently invited to be part of Welcoming America’s Rural Welcoming Initiative to strengthen inclusion and become part of the national welcoming movement. As a fellow member of the Welcoming America network, we look forward to working closely with the City of Gunnison to support their work to build capacity and infrastructure to advance immigrant integration. We are grateful for all of the people and organizations that are committed to making the Gunnison Valley a more welcoming place for all.
PHOTO: A family receives food assistance through local collaboration
Relief for Undocumented Workers
During the pandemic, tens of thousands of Colorado workers did not receive stimulus checks to help them through these difficult times. Through our continued partnership with Impact Charitable’s Left Behind Workers Fund, HAP has been able to help low-income workers in Western Colorado who are ineligible for state and federal aid programs. Since December 2021, we have successfully screened 96 families who received cash payments of $1,500, bringing in $144,000 to our regional economy. The funds have helped recipients to support themselves and their families, spreading the economic benefits into communities across the Western Slope.
In addition, HAP has continued to distribute emergency assistance through the Western Colorado Immigrant Relief Fund to broaden the support available to the undocumented community in times of need.
Cover All Coloradans
One of the issues we have heard time and time again from our community is about the lack of access to health insurance. For years, Colorado has been working to expand access to healthcare and health insurance coverage to all Coloradans; unfortunately, thousands of people with undocumented immigration status in low-income families are still left out. The Hispanic Affairs Project is advocating for a bill to be introduced in this year’s state legislative session that will help address a few aspects of this coverage gap. Cover All Coloradans will improve and expand health coverage options available to children and pregnant people, regardless of immigration status. The proposed legislation will do the following:
- Expand Coverage to include: 1) Full healthcare coverage using existing federal funding for pregnant people who would otherwise be eligible for Medicaid and CHP+ if not for their immigration status, and continues coverage through 12 months postpartum. 2) Full healthcare coverage to children, regardless of immigration status, through age 18.
- Provide pregnancy and postpartum support by improving access to parental support programs
- Collect data for improved healthcare equity by strengthening and permanently authorizing CDPHE’s Health eMoms Survey.
- Expand health insurance enrollment by creating a Special Enrollment Period for pregnancy so that people can sign up for insurance when they become pregnant and not have to wait until later in the year.
Join us in supporting this proposal—we believe that every family deserves a healthy start! Learn more at coverallcoloradans.org/.
PHOTO: An H2A visa sheepherder in Western Colorado
Ensuring Access to Labor and Employment Standards
After a successful state advocacy campaign, farm and ranch workers are now included in the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment’s labor standards including minimum wage requirements and labor protections as of January 1, 2022. Because ranch workers in the sheep industry are isolated, HAP has launched a migrant outreach campaign to ensure workers are benefiting from the new laws. Our goal this year is to reach at least 300 ranch workers throughout Colorado and into bordering states.
To further our impact, HAP is coordinating with consulates of countries participating in the H2A visa program, such as Perú and México. Simple actions like better oversight of the recruitment process in the workers’ country of origin, and consulates having access to communicate with their citizens who are residing in the U.S. will help improve worker safety.
HAP will continue representing our current sheepherder members in the annual rulemaking process of the U.S. Department of Labor to ensure worker recommendations are taken into consideration. Although the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit previously ruled in favor of strengthening labor conditions and immigration provisions for sheepherders, the federal rulemaking process is not responding to the court’s ruling.
ReFUND What Matters
ReFUND CO is an easy way to support our mission! If you get a 2021 state income tax refund, you will have an opportunity to donate some or all of it to support our ongoing work in the community. The ReFUND CO initiative puts you in charge of where your donation goes. It’s as simple as 1,2,3:
1) Decide how much of your refund to donate.
2) Enter Hispanic Affairs Project and our registration number 20113035539 in the Donate to a Colorado Nonprofit Fund line on your state income tax return or tax software – or just give this info to your tax preparer when you share your tax documents.
3) Smile knowing you’ve helped a cause that matters to you!
With this new program, you can re-energize our important work for another year. Learn more about this program at RefundWhatMatters.org.